Tempest in a Toppo

I’ve known USA Today education reporter Greg Toppo ever since he was on the beat for the Santa Fe New Mexican and believe me, he’s about the least likely reporter to be carrying water for the teachers’ unions. So that accusation, made by Andrew Rotherham at Eduwonk, caught my attention.

I’ve never met Andrew, but we’ve been cyber-acquainted for almost as long, and he’s not the type to hammer a reporter just for writing something with which he disagrees.

I’m also acquainted with Alexander Russo and John Merrow, and they hammer Andrew for hammering Greg.

The cause of all this heartburn is Greg’s article on Teach for America, and the prominence it gives to union claims that districts are laying off experienced teachers and replacing them with, ostensibly, lower-cost TFAers.

I don’t find the story as egregious as Andrew does, and a simple e-mail to Greg might have been a more appropriate response, but I am sympathetic to his argument that Greg’s story repeats the same angle on TFA that was ginned up by NEA after the Charlotte-Mecklenburg incident. (N.B. NEA Executive Director John Wilson, featured in the USA Today story, was for a long-time the executive director of NEA’s North Carolina affiliate and remains involved in the state’s politics.)

For what it’s worth, I think Greg’s story was not up to his usual standards, and Andrew caught him on it, but overreacted.

NEA has a large, well-financed communications department. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the union occasionally gets its PR message and talking points in print. Thankfully, from my point of view, the press shows WAY more skepticism of teacher union claims than it used to, and, by extension, so does the public.

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One thought on “Tempest in a Toppo”

  1. hi, mike —

    are you joking about andy?

    he’s totally the type to hammer a reporter with whom he disagrees.

    did it with schemo in re NCLB effects.

    did it just the same week with libby quaid re class size.

    has done it several times in private, not just with me.

    does not like to be disagreed with.

    — alexander

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